Category Archives: Quilt Fabric

Indepedence Day Wall Hanging

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Veronica QuiltMy son’s girlfriend loves history. I wanted to make her something that was history-related and could be used to decorate her classroom when she becomes a teacher.

I had a collection of Americana fabric, including a panel which duplicated the Declaration of Independence.

I know that this project does not look like it took a lot of design, but it took me a week or so to figure it out.I wanted to do something fancier, such as incorporate pieces of the Declaration into blocks, but that felt a bit unpatriotic. I had a lot of Americana fabric that I wanted to use, but it made everything too busy.

It ended up that I just used the panel, made a border out of red fabric, and added the upper and lower borders from another panel. The eagle is fused.

I decided to do very simple quilting that didn’t detract from the panel. So I used my star-shaped templates and quilted it on my longarm in a neutral colored thread.

If the design was a problem, the quilting was worse. It should have been denser and the stars ended up being too messy looking.

The “highlight” was sewing a stitch through my fingertip with my longarm. My finger has a couple of puncture wounds, but I’m okay.

This is one of those project that was made with love, but didn’t turn out nearly as well as I hoped. At this point, I’m not sure if I’ll even give it to her.

 

 

American Made Fabric (and Challenge)

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http://americanmadebrand.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/amb_circle-logo.jpg?w=238I can’t remember a time when a new quilt fabric line created such a buzz in the industry. Even though I’ve taken a long break from blogging (which will be covered in the next post), I wanted to share this with y’all.

We have a new American-made line of solid fabrics. The fabrics are grown in the U.S., as well as spun and manufactured here. Yup. The whole process. You can read their story here. I first heard about this line of fabrics from a quilter friend. Now, the buzz is everywhere and I just learned that our local quilt shop has purchased the entire line of fabrics. (Way to go, Pieceful Quilting.)

Even more fun is the fact they’ve created a Farm to Fabric Challenge. Registration must be completed by August 15th.

As someone whose been recently challenged to find time for quilting, I know that challenges are a great way to get inspired to start — and actually finish — a project. I’m pretty sure I’m going to enter myself and I’d love for some of my readers to enter too.

My Hex-ceptional Quilt!

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I have a large stash of black and white fabrics and was trying to figure out a way to use them. Since hex quilts are so popular, I thought I’d give it a try. It’s actually pretty easy, as long as you’re not afraid of “Y” seams.

I began with Darlene Zimmerman’s Hexagon template.

Since this was just a test quilt, I traced each hexagon using a fine-tipped Sharpie so I could see the lines. I then used a ruler and, again using a Sharpie, marked the 1/4″ line around all six sides. (Warning: Not recommended for a show quilt!) The next step was to sew rows together. If you picture the hex’s as a stop sign, I sewed the bottom of Stop Sign #1 to the top of Stop Sign #2. On even rows, I pressed the seams towards the top; on odd rows, I pressed the seams toward the bottom.

Now the fun begins as you sew the rows together. I pinned the right sides of the stop sign in Row 1 to the left side of the stop sign in Row 2. I just sewed along the guidelines. When I got to the intersection of blocks, I kept the needle in the “down” position and moved the seam allowance out of the way.  I actually got into the rhythm and it fairly easy to do. These are 5.5″ blocks, so I imagine it’s a little more challenging as the blocks get smaller. Overall, it was an interesting project and certainly one that builds piecing skills.

Hex quilt 3

No fabric was purchased for this quilt!

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There’s something really satisfying about making a quilt top entirely from my stash! I had a half yard of this button fabric and wanted to make a quilt with it.  I managed to find some matching red, grey and white solids, but didn’t have much of them either. What I did  have were two rolls of Kona cotton 2.5 inch strips — one set in black and the other in white. I mixed it all together and came up with this quilt top!

I have to say that I love the look of it. It’s contemporary and kind of fun! I can’t wait to quilt it. I’m also excited to use up a teeny, tiny bit of my fabric stash!

Buttons quilt 3 Buttons quilt

Buying Fabric Online

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I’m always amazed at the number of women I meet who have never purchased fabric online. Their main reason is that they want to touch the fabric before they buy it. This always makes me smile! If you’re purchasing good quality quilter’s cotton, there is very little chance that you will get a fabric that feels too cheap or too stiff.

With the exception of The City Quilter  in New York City, I buy almost all my fabric online.  I like the selection of an online store. In most cases, the fabric arrives within a few days.  The prices are very often better than available locally. It’s not that I don’t want to support our local quilt shops, but the convenience, selection and cost from an online store usually win my business. Here are a few of my favorite shops, in no particular order, to get you started. (Please note that I have no financial interest in any of these companies.)

Fat Quarter Shop — This is one of my favorites.  They have a great selection and a good variety of fabrics. They also send out a nice newsletter on Fridays with a fabric special. Their shipping is extremely fast and they package the fabrics in cool clear cellophane.

Pink Chalk Fabrics — Pink Chalk Fabrics is new on my favorite list. They are a modern quilt shop with a really nice selection. They offer a lot of bundles, especially of modern fabrics and solids, and many of the collections come from bloggers. They have an excellent blog! The few times I’ve purchased from them, their shipping has been very quick.

eQuilter.com — eQuilter has an amazing selection and also sends out a great newsletter with their new arrivals. My favorite part about eQuilter is that they have a color matching tool. I use this a lot, especially to match solids for modern quilts. The major downside to eQuilter is that their shipping is very slow (often more than a week). I’ve contacted them about their slow shipping a couple of times … they usually send me back an excuse about it being a busy time. I’ve purchased from them for several years and the shipping speed has not improved. I stay with them for their selection.

Fabric.com — This store has the best prices and free shipping if you purchase more than $35 in fabric. They also have frequent sales on top of their already awesome discount prices. My favorite part of fabric.com is that they show a ruler with each fabric, so you know its scale. (I wish all companies did this, but they don’t.)  Shipping is usually fairly quick, although my daughter and I have both run into speed problems recently. They are a great choice for novelty fabrics and also sell upholstery and fashion fabrics.

Web Fabrics — Web Fabrics carries full lines of all their fabrics, which is great because most places (especially locally) do not do this. It is a particularly great source for blenders. Shipping is fast and they seem to almost always have everything in stock. They send a short weekly newsletter describing their newest fabrics.  They also sell sample packs of their blenders, so that you can easily match blenders to your own fabrics.

If you haven’t given online fabric shopping a chance, give it a try!  Subscribe to some of the above stores’ blogs and/or newsletters, and enjoy some browsing without getting off the couch. Happy shopping!

My First Quilt Market: Part 3 — Buying Fabric

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Quilt Market, the big quilting trade show held in Houston last month, is where many quilt shop owners buy their fabrics. Because (I believe) all of the major  fabric companies were vendors at Quilt Market, it is one-stop shopping for seeing new fabric lines and making purchases.  Throughout the show floor, I saw innovative booths with long rows of tables, where buyers intently looked at the new fabric. Quite honestly, the whole scenario was very overwhelming and I was glad not to be charged with buying any fabric for anybody.

The experience did, however, make me curious as to how fabric is selected. Regina Storms, a salesperson with Marcus Fabrics, was kind enough to explain the process to me: A few weeks before Quilt Market, Marcus Fabrics sends an email blast to their customers. This email describes the new collections that will be available at Quilt Market, and invites them to make an appointment.  Once a customer arrives at the booth, they sit down in front of a sales associate and look at large fabric swatches that are glued onto sheets of cardboard. Each sheet of cardboard shows all (or part) of a coordinating line.  It is interesting that these “swatches” may fabric, if the sample fabric has arrived in time. Otherwise they are printed images of the fabric (ie paper). The customer then chooses the fabrics that are appropriate for their store.

I did talk to several quilt shop owners. Some of them purchased all of their fabric at Quilt Market. Others purchased none, but viewed it as a time to see the new collections and gather information. They then purchased fabric at a later date, from their sales rep, at their store.

Regina Storms, a sales associate with Marcus Fabrics, describes how to purchase fabric.

View of the Moda Booth

View of Michael Miller Booth

Buyer looks at new fabric lines.

In (the) Mood: A Visit to One of New York City’s Best Known Fabric Stores

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Any of us who are fans of Project Runway will be familiar with Mood — the huge fabric warehouse contestants visit each week as they search for their challenge fabric. Since the only sewing I do is quilts — and I’ve never found quilter’s cotton at Mood — it’s not a place that I visit often. But I had some time yesterday for a quick visit.

Mood is located at 225 West 37th Street, in the heart of New York’s Garment District. The first thing visitors need to know is Mood it is NOT visible from the street. Not even a little bit. All you see is a lobby with some elevators along the side.  And there are no signs to indicate you are in the right place. However there is usually lots of chatter in the lobby as confused tourists ask each other, “Is this Mood?” (The first time I visited Mood, I spent quilt a while wandering around on the street in front of where the store should be. Finally a kind New Yorker asked me if I was looking for Mood and directed me to the elevators. It is not easy to find!)

The next interesting fact about Mood is that the elevators are manned by attendants. You don’t see that very much any more.  Yesterday, as I was searching for an address in my purse, I overheard the two elevator attendants talking about their wives’ experiences at the twin towers during 9-11. This sad day is not far from any New Yorkers’ memory.

Mood is three floors of rolled fabrics, stacked on shelves that I guess are 8 feet high. Price tags are hidden in the cardboard tube. There always seem to be plenty of Mood employees to help you. If you want to sound really cool, walk up to an employee and say: “Can you swatch this for me?”

The Monday morning shoppers were a mix of tourists, fashion students, and — I’m guessing here — designers. Several people (mainly the “can you swatch this for me” crowd) were carrying sketch books.

I’m sure Mood is a great store for fashion designers, but I don’t think it suits a quilter. We are used to having our fabrics displayed on 15 yard bolts, artfully arranged by color or collection. In our quilt stores, it’s always easy to figure out where fabric is cut, and you don’t have to carry long, heavy rolls of fabric to the cutting table. Plus there’s usually a lot of natural light and some great quilts on the wall. None of this occurs at Mood.

We shop the garment district quite frequently, as my daughter is an amateur costume designer. My daughter is always armed with sketches and specific color/fabric needs, and she loves the hunt for the perfect fabric and trim. For anyone with this kind of attitude, Mood will be a treasure trove of fabric. Not me. However I still think that Mood deserves a visit, so you can experience it for yourself. If you’re lucky — as I was — you will even seen the little black and white dog that has become famous from Project Runway visits.

You can check out Mood online at  http://www.moodfabrics.com/

They also have a great blog at http://www.moodfabrics.com/blog/

You can watch episodes of Project Runway at http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/project-runway

(If you can’t see the photos, please check my blog at quiltnotes.wordpress.com)

The aisles at Mood.

Great selection.

Just as it looks on Project Runway.

Lots of selection!

My First Civil War Fabrics

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Last week, I was asked to make a block using civil war fabrics. No big deal, except that my huge stash of fabric did not contain a single fat quarter of reproduction fabrics. I wasn’t even sure where the civil war fabrics were displayed in my local quilt shop! My friend Sharon, a civil war fabric lover, helped me pick the fabrics for this block.

Civil War Fabrics

I must admit that I prefer modern colors and designs to the sedate colors and small patterns that characterize civil war fabrics. However I do think that this fabric combination is quite attractive.

Directions for this Friendship Star quilt block can be found at:

http://quilting.about.com/od/blockofthemonth/ss/friend_star.htm

You can learn more about civil war reproduction fabrics at:

http://www.reproductionfabrics.com/htm-popups/civil_war_text.html

Father’s Day Quilt

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This weekend is Father’s Day and — for the first time in more than 20 years — I am spending it with my father (as well as my mother and 3 siblings). For 15 years I lived about 3,000 miles from my dad until I moved five years ago, so a quick trip for family celebrations wasn’t feasible. I am now a “short” 14 hour drive away, and Father’s Day happens to coincide with other plans in the area.

My family does not generally exchange gifts, but I saw this panel at a recent quilt show. My dad grew up on a farm in Northern Ontario (Canada) and I immediately thought of him. As this was something I thought he could hang in his computer room in the basement, I wasn’t looking to do anything too fancy with the quilting. However, once I started on the grass, I realized that it was a very time-consuming endeavor. Nevertheless, it looks great and I know he will like it.

The panel is available at http://216.67.235.130/p-20721-farmall-tractor-wducks-panel-troy.aspx

Speaking of traveling … I will be on vacation for the next 10 days and back to the blog-o-sphere on June 25th.

(If you cannot see my photos, please go directly to my blog at quiltnotes.wordpress.com)

Farm panel

Grass is easy to do, but time-consuming

Even the backing is coordinating!

 

 

The Perils of Piecing Quilt Backing

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First let me say that I love the look of pieced backing. It is a fun, economical, and visually appealing choice for backing. So it’s hard to believe there could be any downside. But there is –especially  if your quilt is being done on a longarm.

The job of a longarmer is to make sure that the backing is square and rolled evenly on the rollers. Otherwise you get sags and tucks in the backing.  The easiest way to achieve a tight, square back is to use a single piece of fabric. This has lead to the popularity of 108″ (and wider) backing fabrics.

When you piece the quilt’s back, you are introducing different fabrics that may not have equal amounts of stretch. You may have seams that introduce fullness into one piece of fabric. You may also have fabrics that are cut partly on the bias, which again increases the stretch in some of the backing.

If you do seam the backing, it is best to do it parallel to the longarm bars. This is  because seams add additional bulk to the quilt.  Pieced backings need 1/2″ seams, so you have an additional 1″ of fabric bulk for each seam. If you put the seams perpendicular to the longarm bars, you are introducing bulk in part of the quilt, which makes it impossible to roll it evenly.

One more complication … longarmers generally load the quilt with the widest sides attached to the roller. So the backing seams should generally be vertically in the backing, because the seams will end up being parallel to the rollers when the quilt is loaded. However this is not a carved-in-stone rule, as the quilt design also determines which direction the quilt will be loaded.

Some longarmers have different preferences, so check with your longarmer before you piece your back. In my opinion you can never go wrong with a wide backing!

(If you can’t see this photo, please check my blog at quiltnotes.wordpress.com.)

A great example of pieced backing (which I pieced together for my customer Rochelle). They are incredibly effective but much harder to work with than a single piece of fabric.